Making change for disabled people

Scope embarked in June on an innovative programme to support young disabled people to run their own campaigns, Scope for Change.

We wanted to empower and support a group of young people to run the campaigns on the issues that mattered to them.

Over the past six months the campaigners have met each other and formed a strong community of campaigners, working supporting each other with their individual efforts to make change for disabled people. Along the way we’ve provided opportunities and support for the young people to effectively make change.

Planning their campaigns

Of the 10 campaigns, the ideas are as diverse as the campaigners. After a three-night campaign training weekend, the campaigners came away with lots of ambitious, inspiring ideas on what change they wanted to make.

One campaigner wanted to amend the equality act so that volunteers had the same protections from discrimination as employees. Another wanted to help more people see invisible disabilities as valid as visible disabilities. One campaign, run by two of the campaigners wanted to Make The World Flat – starting with a petition for it to be a legal requirement for all schools to be accessible.

We’ve encouraged them to run with their ideas, however ambitious. And it’s paid off. We’ve had campaigners delivering lectures, speaking at industry events, meeting ministers and MPs about their campaign, delivering radio interviews, making videos, leading meetings and bringing change for disabled people in Britain with them every step of the way.

Making a positive change

But maybe the most significant change we’ve seen over the six months is the confidence in the group and how their attitudes have shifted towards disability. The campaigners have told us that being around a group of people, both young disabled people and Scope staff, who are accepting and affirming of their experiences has been a real positive for them. We’ve been told that the programme has raised their confidence in many ways. One campaigner told us it’s been a real positive for their mental health during a period of a lot of change.

The campaigners have also told us that being a part of the Scope for Change programme has been a defining factor for them to feel newly proud and open about their diagnoses or impairments. One of our campaigners, Raisa, highlighted this in her campaign to encourage to use positive language around disability. Another said, about the Scope for Change residential, “For the first time in my life, my disability didn’t matter, and I was around other people who understood what is was like and knew what to do.”

Scope for Change this year culminated in a graduation event in Westminster, hosted by Stephen Timms MP and with speeches from scope leadership and Sam Renke who is a scope ambassador and leading disability activist. The programme will reopen for applications for the next generation in the spring. To register your interest please email campaigns@scope.org.uk about Scope for Change, and we will notify you when applications open.

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